August 05, 2015

UXUA's backyard spices

The garden of UXUA remains a lush, tropical paradise. Its a delight to walk through royal palms and cacao trees which have all been preserved, as no trees were cut down in building the hotel. But what most don’t know is that in this private eden hidden in unexpected places are exoctic peppers. These were planted by natives over many generations, and some conveniently are found growing in the backyard of our kitchen, built within the historic house of Dona Frozina just behind the Historic Quadrado.

The pimenta biquinho (pout pepper), or scientifically Capsicun Chinese, derives from the Solanaceae family (thus its related to tomatoes, eggplants and sweet peppers) and its origin are in the South American continent, unlike many of the African-derrived peppers and spices found today in the area and brought by Portuguese colonialists and slaves.

As the name indicates, the pepper looks like a pout, and it’s color varies from intense red to a deep purple. But not always the smallest flasks keep the worst poisons, indeed this small intimidating-looking pepper has an amazing aroma and a very strong flavor as you would expect to find here in Bahia, but despite the intense pre-taste experience the biquinho is pretty harmless, it doesn’t give a strong sensation of burn, while teasing just enough stimulation to awaken and intensify the palate, as any pepper should!

Its a fact that every Bahian meal should be accompanied by peppers or pepper sauce. If you share a lunch with a native family, passing the pepper container around is almost a ritual, from the youngest to the oldest, man or woman, everyone will add a touch to their food.

This pepper is perfect for first-timers looking for an authentic Bahian cuisine experience due to it being pretty gentle on the mouth while still packing flavor and aroma.

The oldest native Bahian cooks insist the only way to make a good pepper sauce is to do the cutting and pestling by hand.

UXUA's kitchen team collects these peppers when ripe straight from our trees and makes sauce which we bottle and offer as gifts to guests, or maybe, if inspired our chef will create pepper chocolate ice cream using also fresh cacaos grown in our garden.